Rock Creek Park: Paths and Foot Bridges – Washington DC


Bridal paths were a part of Rock Creek Park from the beginning around 1900, but the system of paths and bridges was greatly expanded during the New Deal.  The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built more than two miles of bridle paths as part of various works done in Rock Creek Park (as well as in Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway). All such work was done under supervision of the National Park Service, which had gained oversight of all DC parks in 1933.

The Public Works Administration (PWA) paid for the replacement of eight bridges that had been washed away in a flood on Rock Creek in the early 1930s (Washington Post 1933).  The new bridges were built in 1934-35.  Five of those are in Rock Creek Park:  Rapids Footbridge, Rolling Meadow Footbridge, Riley Spring Footbridge, Bluff Footbridge and Boundary Footbridge.

A 1939 PWA report provides more information on the bridges:  “The…bridges in Rock Creek Park, constructed by the National Park Service, are typical of the advance in small-bridge design in our national parks. They are constructed of concrete and stone with wood handrails.” (Short & Stanley-Brown 1939)




Source notes

Civilian Conservation Corps Activities in the National Capital Region of the National Park Service, National Capital Parks-Central, Washington, DC, HABS DC-858.

Short, C. W. and R. Stanley-Brown, 1939.  Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

“District gets $325,000 fund for building,” Washington Post, September 8, 1933, p. 22

Zack Spratt, Rock Creek Bridges,  Records of the Columbia Historical Society, 53-56 (1959).

Ross, Amy. 1992. Bluff's Bridge.  Historic American Engineering Report DC-33.

Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on December 5, 2011.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Rock Creek Park
Washington, DC 20011

Coordinates: 38.9533, -77.0435

One comment on “Rock Creek Park: Paths and Foot Bridges – Washington DC

  1. The Federal budget came through for Peirce Mill again in 2009 – complementing a privately raised $1,000,050 with over $2M in ARRA funds to accomplish a new restoration of the mill and its surrounding “cultural landscape,” after 60 years of use and ten years of waiting for funds to be raised for restoration after a breakdown in 1994. Schoolkids from DC and the surrounding towns are once again able to stand in awe and watch the gigantic wooden gears turn and grind grain as they did in 1830. – Tom Blackburn, President, Friends of Peirce Mill, Inc.

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